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Tinnitus causes you to hear sounds, sounds as ringing, hissing, buzzing or clicking. The sounds may come and go or they may be always there. Tinnitus is a symptom of a health condition that is affecting the auditory system. Learn about how the experts at the UVM Medical Center use the most advanced technology to diagnose and treat tinnitus.
Tinnitus Care at UVM Medical Center
Tinnitus affects approximately 45 million Americans. About half of them have chronic tinnitus, which is defined as severe symptoms that interfere with their quality of life. At the UVM Medical Center, our team of experts works with tinnitus sufferers to ease symptoms and enhance the quality of life. When receiving care at the UVM Medical center, you can expect:
- Comprehensive care - When needed, our audiology team works with otolaryngologists (also called ear, nose and throat specialists, or ENTs) to provide a full spectrum of care, from diagnosis to ongoing treatment and management.
- Experienced, trusted expertise - We have one of the most experienced audiology teams in the region. Our specialists have a combined 40 years of experience caring for people with tinnitus. Two of our three audiologists are board-certified doctors—something not often found in most hearing aid clinics. We also have a full-time audiology assistant on-site to assist with patients' needs.
- Personalized care - It is sometimes necessary to try several treatment options before finding the one that works best. Our specialists work with you to individualize your treatment.
- Affordable - We see all patients regardless of ability to pay. Every patient who we fit for hearing aids is eligible for an interest-free payment plan. We are the only audiology center in northern Vermont that accepts Medicaid for hearing aids.
- Dedicated to patient care - We do not accept kickbacks from hearing aid manufacturers. We choose hearing aids for patients based on what the patient needs—not on manufacturer incentives.
- Convenience - Our full-time audiology assistant can help with repairs of hearing aids. We also have an after-hours drop-off service for hearing aid servicing and repair.
- Advanced diagnostic procedures - Our doctors perform a variety of diagnostic procedures to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. These include:
- Tests for Hearing
- Diagnostic Imaging Tests (Our Ear, Nose and Throat specialists will perform these tests)
When tinnitus becomes chronic, it can interfere with sleep, mood, memory and the overall enjoyment of life. At the UVM Medical Center, our audiologists work carefully to make a definitive diagnosis. They have a combined 40 years of experience in diagnosing tinnitus and hearing problems.
The diagnostic procedures we use at the UVM Medical Center include:
Tests for Hearing
Hearing tests measure how well you can hear a variety of sounds. Sitting in a sound-isolation room, you'll wear headphones while an audiologist operates a machine called an audiometer. This machine produces sounds at various volumes and frequencies (also known as pitch). You'll be instructed to press a button any time you hear the sounds.
This test helps to determine if hearing loss is present. Your audiologist may conduct other types of hearing tests, but also speech tests such as speech recognition and quiet, speech reception threshold and speech in noise. These tests measure how well you can hear words without being able to see the person speaking and in different listening situations.
Diagnostic Imaging Tests
Your audiologist may refer you to one of our otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat, or ENT, specialists) if he or she believes the cause of your tinnitus is due to an underlying medical concern. This doctor may order a computerized tomography (CT or CAT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
These scans allow your doctor to closely examine the inside of your ear, auditory nerve, and brain. This information is used to evaluate whether certain conditions, such as tumors or head and neck injuries, are causing your symptoms of tinnitus.
Treatments for Tinnitus
Once a diagnosis of tinnitus has been made, our expert audiology team at the UVM Medical Center will personalize a treatment plan for you. There is no cure for tinnitus, so our treatments will focus on dramatically improving symptoms. We want you to enjoy life to it's fullest potential.
Your treatment plan will depend on your specific symptoms and their severity. We work with each patient individually to tailor an effective treatment plan. The success of any tinnitus management approach depends on your interaction and active participation. Treatments include:
A hearing aid may be recommended if tests show that you have hearing loss along with tinnitus. Treating hearing loss can help reduce the perception of tinnitus. Hearing aids allow the brain to receive more auditory input, similar to like it did when the hearing was normal. Hearing more of the sounds around you that you've been missing helps to distract your brain from the sound caused by tinnitus.
Every patient who we fit for hearing aids is eligible for an interest-free payment plan. We are the only audiology center in northern Vermont that accepts Medicaid for hearing aids.
Ear Level Sound Generators
Ear level sound generators have a similar look and it as hearing aids. This device produces white noise or other suitable sounds that reduce the perception of your tinnitus. A combination hearing aid that also has a sound generator can be used if you have hearing loss as well.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
Tinnitus retraining therapy combines counseling with the use of an ear-level sound generator or combination hearing aid. The goal is to help you get used to and be desensitized to the tinnitus sound your hear.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Tinnitus can have an impact on your psychological well being. If deemed appropriate, your audiologist may recommend a cognitive behavior therapy with a behavioral health specialist. This specialist will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan.
Cognitive therapy for tinnitus focuses on reducing the emotional distress induced by tinnitus. A counselor will help the patient identify negative behaviors and thought patterns and replace them with more positive and realistic thoughts. CBT typically includes both cognitive and behavioral therapy such as cognitive restructuring, relaxation training, imagery techniques and exposure to difficult situations.
Tinnitus Care at UVM Medical Center: How We Compare
The audiology specialists at the UVM Medical Center is one of the most experienced teams in the region. Our specialists have a combined 40 years of experience in caring for patients with tinnitus. In addition, 2 of our 3 audiologists are board-certified doctors, something not typically found in hearing aid clinics.